Review: A Real Page-turner

Review in a Swedish magazine about popular fiction, DAST:

Omslag De sju nycklarnaRebecka Reté is an IT security consultant, just like Åsa Schwarz herself, and as she is awakened by a gun to her head in the middle of the night in her flat in Stockholm, a couple of masked men try to force her to hand over a key for which she must be prepared to sacrifice her life. The key is in her safe and together with six other keys around the world it gives one access to the root – the very foundation – of the Internet. Rebecka is one of seven key holders and to get into the root zone and change or activate various Internet functions, one has to have at least five of the keys.

The intrusion into Rebecka’s home sets off a chain of events which quickly develops and forces her to make use of her IT and hacker know-how in order to protect herself and her family, while at the same time, together with others, trying to find out who is out to ge the seven keys and why. In an afterword, Åsa lists ten points exposing our and our societies’ vulnerability. ”Ten points,” she states, ”which, if they were implemented, I am convinced would make our country safer, more secure, and more robust.”

Besides being an IT security consultant, Åsa Schwarz is a seasoned author. She has written a fast-paced thriller where no one is what they appear to be and where you can trust no one. The novel is, in spite of its subject, an exciting page-turner!

Read it – and do not skip the afterword!

— Ulf Broberg


The Seven Keys was reviewed in daily newspaper Hallandsposten:


Omslag De sju nycklarnaAuthor Åsa Schwarz has a B. A. in computer and systems sciences and works as an IT security consultant. Thus, when she writes a thriller about hackers, we may rest assured that she knows what she is writing about.

The Seven Keys is a frightening, very fast-paced thriller. It centres around a world-wide attack targeting the seven people who hold the keys to the Internet. Once a quarter these seven persons meet in Washington to uppdate the system making traffic on the Internet possible. This is of vital importance for the Internet – and thus modern society – to function.

One of the key holders is Swedish Rebecka. She succeeds in escaping her attackers and go into hiding. Eventually she gets in touch with two other key holders who have also managed to stay alive. Now the hunt for the cyber terrorist begins. The clues are pointing every which way – to Chinese intelligence services, to neo-Nazi organisations, and to the NSA. Who is friend and who is foe? Whom can you trust?

At the same time, Rebecka is facing other, more personal problems. On her husbands computer she finds evidence of him being unfaithful. He has brought the children to a safe house, but how safe is it really? The enemy seems to be continually one step ahead.

There is no dearth of conflict in this thriller. When one believes the very worst to have happened and relaxes a bit, there is the next punch in the face. This is all incredibly exciting and one’s brain has to struggle to figure out possible solutions to the mystery. The plot is so well constructed that only bits and pieces of the truth seep through and the turning points keep one on edge all the time.

An extra plus for Rebecka not being the Lisbeth Salander type, but about forty and a married mother of two, who has, to be sure, been a hacker in her youth but who didn’t suffer a difficult upbringing and who doesn’t hate society. She only wants to do her best to stop the keys to the Internet from ending up in the wrong hands.

One of the real-life seven key holders actually is Swedish. There is a short documentary about her on YouTube (in Swedish). Watch it!

— Annika Bengtsson


Omslag De sju nycklarnaMy hacker thriller The Seven Keys is being released today. When I wrote the afterword last spring, I knew that the message was an important one. I wanted it to be heard, somehow. Our society is fragile and rests on digital infrastructure which is far from secure.

Our government bodies, county councils, municipalities, and many of our companies are vulnerable. Sweden and many other countries could easily be the target of massive Internet blackouts and would then be at a standstill. Copious amount of information may end up in the wrong hands. Yet few seemed interested or able to understand the magnitude.

Then came the summer of the Swedish Transport Agency. Two government ministers and the board had to resign. Director general Maria Ågren was convicted of careless handling of secret intelligence. Suddenly everyone was talking about cyber security in Sweden. Thus, here is an easily accessible thriller with a very important message: we have to get the digital security upgraded. When you’ve read The Seven Keys, ask the political party you’ll vote for in the next election what they’re going to do to strengthen cyber security in your country.

The Seven Keys is today – 21 August, 2017 – released simultaenously in Sweden and Denmark. It is available in hardcover, as an audio book, and as an ebook.

— Åsa